from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • Earlier; before; prior to: prehistoric.
  • Preparatory; preliminary: premedical.
  • In advance: prepay.
  • Anterior; in front of: preaxial.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • Before; used to form words meaning "in front of (in space)".
  • Before; used to form words meaning "before (in time)".

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • A prefix denoting priority (of time, place, or rank); ; preëminent eminent before or above others. Pre- is sometimes used intensively, .

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • A prefix in words of Latin origin, meaning ‘before,’ in place, time, or rank.
  • n. In petrography, in the quantitative system of classification of igneous rocks (see rock), a prefix used to indicate that one factor predominates over another to an extent greater than 5:3: as, prealkalic, precalcic, prefelic, etc.


Middle English, from Old French, from Latin prae-, from prae, before, in front; see per1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the Latin preposition prae ("before"). (Wiktionary)



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